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Sponsorship by alcohol brands was worth an estimated 30 million to Irish sports in 2014 and it is likely that this figure has since increased.
When asked, Irish adults associated Guinness, Heineken and Carlsberg with the four most popular sports in Ireland. More recently, Guinness and Heineken were recognised as brands that people immediately associated with sponsorship of sport in Ireland over the summer of 2018. The Irish sponsorship market was predicted to increase by 12% to 201 million in 2018 but the introduction of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 (the Act) is likely to have a significant effect on their figures.
The Act, signed into law on 17 October 2018, provides that the Minister for Health has the authority to regulate the advertising, marketing and sponsorship of alcohol products and brands. The Act will have a material impact on the sponsorship of sports events in Ireland. Delayed commencement for certain sections of the Act will allow for a phased introduction of alcohol advertising restrictions during sporting events and removal of alcohol sponsorship for sporting venues. These sections will commence on 12 November 2021.
The Act will prohibit the advertising of an alcohol product in or on a sports area during a sports event. A sports area is defined as an area, whether indoors or outdoors, where participants participate in sporting activities or competitors compete in sporting competitions, and includes a playing pitch or area, a swimming pool, an athletics track, a dog or horse racing track or a motor racing track. Sponsorship of sports events by alcohol companies is also prohibited where the majority of those taking part are children, or the event is primarily aimed at children. Arguably, therefore, alcohol sponsorship of senior rugby, football, GAA and similar tournaments is not prohibited, however the branding will not be allowed within the 'sports area' during the event nor on television or radio during the watershed hours described below.
The Act will also introduce a broadcast watershed, amounting to a ban on alcohol advertising around television programmes (from 3am to 9pm) and radio programmes (on a week day between the hours of midnight and 10am or 3pm and midnight) during certain hours. The marketing and advertising of alcohol in print media (both domestic and foreign publications) is also restricted in relation to volume and type of publication under the...